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Here Comes Vegan Gelatin

Like many, you have no doubt looked at the scoby used to brew your kombucha and gazed in amazement. As we have written about several times, beyond creating a batch of brew, there are many uses—some straightforward, some quite creative—for that odd-looking powerful, probiotic, squishy matter.

An article in Live Kindly profiles, perhaps—and we only say perhaps—that is some of the foundational thinking beyond the work taking place at Geltor, a company producing a vegan substitute for gelatin. Traditional gelatin—used in more recipes than anyone imagines—is a byproduct of animal collagen. Yes, it is gross. Gelator and others in this area may have looked at a scoby and wondered if a microbial-based vegan rennet could be created that resembles or has the same properties as a scoby.

The largest benefit to a vegan gelatin would be in the manufacturing of such tasty treats as marshmallows and Gummy Bears. It would also make sense that the makers of Jell-O (Kraft) might consider a line of vegan gelatins.

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Kombucha Scoby as Packaging

Young people are out to save the world. Or at least as much of it as they can.

Case in point: Polish design student Roza Janusz has devised a method to make edible packaging from a scoby (that odd looking biological substance used to make kombucha) that farmers can use for their harvest which allows them to bring them to market (or other destination) without any waste.

This story in Fast Code Design has all the details.

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Is Kombucha Healthy–The Debate Rages On

A piece in Pop Sugar debates the health merits of kombucha. Yes, there are millions of probiotics that add to the beneficial ones already found in the digestive tract. The fact of the matter is, that if it helps your body and digestive system stay healthy and balanced, and you enjoy drinking it, then you should enjoy it. Contrarians believe there is no scientific proof that long-term drinking of kombucha aids overall health conditions.

The same health debate exists for coffee — good for you or cancer-causing. For tea, fans weigh the value of green vs. black and hot vs. cold. Is there a magic formula for any of these beverages?

As more producers with health-inspired offerings, enter the market and are creative with their flavor blending –(for example, Health-Ade jalapeno-kiwi-cucumber or Caboost Kombucha’s hibiscus sangria) more consumers will be tempted to try it. Social media buzz and clever marketing campaigns will also begin to take hold and reach millennial consumers. And, as brewers also experiment with packaging, cans (such as Brew Dr.), bottle, flip top, the market will organically evolve and become a competitor to other lifestyle-branded drinks.

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News Roundup for May 6, 2018

We’re a day late, but not a drink short, as we find a great recipe for making margaritas for Cinco de Mayo using kombucha. (Heck, they sound good for any day).

This combo from the music pub Paste Magazine adds a nice touch by adding a probiotic chia seed. Not sure what it does to enhance the result, but it makes the adult beverage a bit healthier.
There are other recipes that all sound like a fun tribute to the Mexican holiday that commemorates our neighbors to the south, holding off the French who were trying to support the South during the Civil War. Look it up.


There’s nothing like an endorsement from the Mayo Clinic to get people to pay attention.
In the Rochester (MN) City Newspaper, there’s a piece about Katboocha, a kombucha produced by Kat Schwarz which is available at Fifth Frame Brewery and other locations in the area that Mayo calls home. In the article, there’s a comment from the renown medical center that says:

“…there is evidence to suggest that drinking kombucha may produce similar effects to taking probiotic supplements, including improved digestion and immune function.” Broadly applied, the comment can refer to kombucha but also to other probiotic beverages (Jun, for example) and foods such as pickles and sauerkraut.

Schwarz pointed to kombucha being favored by millennials because of its appeal as an alternative to heavy alcoholic beverages. “Young people are thinking more about what they’re putting in their bodies,” Schwarz said in the article. “They want it to be something special.”


Speaking of recipes and uses for kombucha, here’s 61-year-old Abha Appasamy, an Indian woman who uses kombucha to make a special hummus. She sells her fermented version of the popular dish by adding liquid from her fermented sauerkraut to the chickpeas for an up-to-date version of this creamy delight.
Appasamy sells her line of kombucha and other one-offs after feedback and interest from fans of her products on Facebook.

“I just wanted to see what sauerkraut juice (fermented for six weeks) added to the hummus might taste like. But then everybody who tried it seemed to love it,” she said in an interview with Indian Express.


Via Twitter, here’s a video post from the BBC about how to make kombucha as well as the reaction from a few folks about whether they fancied this probiotic beverage.

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GT’s Kombucha Flashes Its Customer Service

Whether it is a question about a food processor or a probiotic beverage, it’s heartening to know that a company’s customer service is alive and well. And, more than that, listening to its customers.
In the case of GT’s Kombucha, the California company not only is listening, it is responding to issues and questions related to its beverage. For a national brand that is often in the spotlight (sometimes in less than a positive way), a quick answer to a simple question makes it close to a case study in the lost art of customer interaction.

As someone who has a sensitivity to kiwi, I was disturbed (well, at least put off) by reading that GT’s has kiwi juice listed in its ingredients on the label of many of its kombuchas. So, I asked why.
I asked:

Can I ask you the reason/logic for adding kiwi juice to your kombucha? It seems to be a recent ingredient.

I ask since I am allergic to kiwi and wonder how many others are.

And, less than one day later, the company responded:

Thank you for reaching out to us with your concern.

As you probably are aware, Kombucha is a living fermented tea that requires a carbohydrate source to nourish the cultivation of its probiotics. The carbohydrate can come in the form of cane sugar, honey, agave, fruit juice etc. We use kiwi fruit juice for our Enlightened Kombucha and have been for a long-time. We use kiwi juice as nutrient source for the initial fermentation of the Kombucha culture because it is a premium ingredient and mixes well with our Enlightened formula. It is consumed by the active cultures ‎during the culturing period and virtually all consumed. We have researched that those with kiwi allergies should not have any reaction. Therefore individuals with sensitivities to kiwi should not experience any adverse reactions.

If you’re still concerned, please know that we offer our Classic Line of Kombucha that has organic sugar as the fermented ingredient.
We hope this information is helpful. Please let us know if we can further assist!

Peace & Blessings,
Darryl

Some would say that such questions can be handled on a company’s Q&A Page, but I liked the personal touch. Will I go back to drinking GT’s? Well, at two for $5 at the local Sprouts, the answer is obvious.

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News Roundup for April 24, 2018

Good news for the kombucha industry—it’s a hit with millennials.

Bravo’s Alesandra Dubin checked in from the annual Coachella music and all-things-cool fest to say that the kombucha bar was one of the best food-related things she found at the California event.

Durbin writes: Maybe it’s the L.A. girl in me, but I just love me some kombucha — nothing makes me feel more refreshed and detoxified than a swig of the stuff, even if most of the benefit is psychological. This year’s new curated on-site program featuring kombucha sommeliers, and I was pretty psyched to try some of the brews made just for the festival.

Cool down with an ice cold bucha @wacofarmersmkt

Here in Austin, as this article from the Baylor Lariat points out, we have about four or five kombucha brewers, but poor Waco (96 miles north of Texas’ capital) was probiotic beverage free until the launch of Bare Bucha. Sold from a van that makes its way around town to various markets, Bare Bucha also can be found at some local store.

“We are the only people in Waco who make our kombucha here, and sell it here,” Kelly Doolittle, manager of operations at Bare Bucha said in a recent interview. “There are several Austin companies that sell it here; Austin has at least five to six big companies that all sell nationwide.”

Doolittle goes on to expand on the claim that everything is bigger in Texas—including kombucha: “Because of Austin, [the state of] Texas is one of the biggest consumers and sellers of kombucha in the United States,” Doolittle said. “There’s a market for kombucha here, and we’re not necessarily trying to create it, but strengthen it. There are a lot of people who are adventurous, who are into this health-type stuff. Even if they don’t know what kombucha is, they’re very willing to try it.”


Perhaps it’s the influence of its new master, Amazon, but Whole Foods released some data that shows what its top sellers are in various regions.
In the Midwest (as tabulated from a store in Cincinnati), Live Soda (a probiotic beverage) is listed as an “up and comer.”
In the Northeast (as tabulated from a store in Piscataway, N.J.), KeVita Master Brew Kombucha is a top-selling beverage.
In the Northwest (as tabulated from a store in Whitefish, MT), GT’s Kombucha takes the top two spots followed by KeVita Apple Cider Vinegar Tonic Elderberry.
In the Southwest (as tabulated from a store in Sierra, AZ), the top up and comer is Wild Tonic Kombucha, on tap in the store.
In the West (as tabulated from a store in Concord, CA), GT’s Kombucha came in second in the beverage category.


From our best of Twitter:
You must love this Tweet from Wild Kombucha


And anyone who loves the beach will adore this Tweet featuring a bottle of Big Easy kombucha against the backdrop of a large, tantalizing stretch of sand (presumable somewhere along the Gulf).

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An Earth Day Special: Creative Reuses for Scobys

When brewing kombucha, there are many beneficial byproducts. A healthy, probiotic liquid is the primary reward, but after many brews, a typical result is a large number of spooky-looking substances called scobys. Like me, most home kombucha makers house them in scoby hotels that take up most of the tall refrigerator space.

Personally, I have experimented with scoby sorbet and dehydrated scoby fruit leathers, as well some chunks of treats for my 90-lb. chocolate lab — who surprisingly loved it!

Kombucha Kamp, with Hannah Crum, shares five ideas for using scobys around the house and garden. Tips on using scobys for facials, gardening, feeding pets and as an ingredient in vegan sushi are the start of creative ideas.

Most fascinating of the potential uses is topical as a living band-aid or, in some cases, as a second skin or a biofilm. Kombucha Kamp points out that “one of the terms for the SCOBY is zooglea, which translates as “living skin” and helps heal the skin from burns, wounds and other skin ailments. Biofilms are not new and have a wide range of applications from medicinal bandages, replacement blood veins, speaker diaphragms and more. They have one of the bacteria native to the Kombucha culture – to create this biofilm.”

At home, you can apply pieces of the scoby topically. Put a piece on a cut, burn or wound and place a band-aid over it. This will prevent the growth of bad bacteria and start the healing process.
But there is so much more that can benefit others with this goopy mass of bacteria. And there are some people that are doing amazing things. Suzanne Lee gave a Ted talk about making clothing from dried scobys, given that it contains the cellulose similar to some fabrics. It is called ScobyTec.

Sasha Laurin is manufacturing the material in the form of a leather, making Kombucha Couture a trendy fashion statement. It creates a sustainable fabric out of the natural brewing byproduct.

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The Art of Pairing Kombucha with Food

Let’s start out with me clarifying that I am a kombucha sipper, not a guzzler. That said, it is interesting to see what food goes with various kombucha flavors if kombucha is your beverage of choice for the meal. For breakfast, for example, paired with our vegan breakfast tacos, I have been playing it safe, sticking to a lemon-ginger or cherry-hibiscus. If I were to expand the range of options, which way I go? Something more tangy and eye-opening, like Cayenne or Beet-Celeriac?

If we apply the traditional rules for pairing wine with food, we would have some rules to follow.
According to Karen McNeil, author of The Wine Bible, here are some pointers:

The food and wine (in this case kombucha) comes from the same place: so a taco with mango salsa could go with a tropical hibiscus kombucha
Pair delicate with delicate taste; robust with robust taste: you could do a light fizzy green tea kombucha with an fried rice entree or a cayenne-ginger with spicy schezwan noodles
Decide if you are going to mirror the taste of the food with the beverage or set up a contrast with the flavors as a juxtaposition

My takeaway from all this is that your pairing doesn’t have to be technically perfect, but ideally provide a perfect seesaw — where the drink makes you want a taste of the food and vice versa. What do kombucha brewers have to say about pairing their brews with food?

Brew Dr. Kombucha gives some specific pairings for backyard bbqs, specifying flavors for grilled meats, veggies and other grilled delights.

Pairing Kombucha With Your Backyard Barbecue

In addition, the owners of Happy Leaf Kombucha suggest avoiding pairing kombucha with coffee and high-acid foods, sticking with similar flavors. They suggest a fermented platter of vegetables brings out the flavor of the brew.
https://www.thekitchn.com/4-ways-to-use-kombucha-beyond-just-drinking-it-maker-tour-part-five-218419

Valley Isle Kombucha, produced in Maui, echoes the like flavors together and adds that kombucha pairs beautifully with cheese (logical since both are fermented!). They add that sweet and sour also contrast nicely if selecting a kombucha to pair with a sweeter dessert.

Pairing Kombucha with Food

The result of all this is to experiment with what you like and find your own favorites.

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Kombucha For the Garden

As we again struggle with our veggie garden, it’s good to know there are myriad ways to enhance your chances of a bumper crop.

But who would have thought adding kombucha to your garden would be one way of turning your thumb (and garden) green.

Read this piece in the local Seattle Greenlaker about a local woman and her tips on using our favorite probiotic beverage in her garden and its results. Dr. Sarah Pellkofer has even started her own company, Micra Culture to share her discovery with others.

Kombucha For Your Plants Created By Local Mom

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News Roundup for April 12, 2018

Newton’s Law of kombucha states that, for every five people that love this probiotic beverage, there are one or two who hate it. Hate it with a passion. Seems that those who truly dislike kombucha love to shout their displeasure from the mountaintops.

Sarah Weinberg, an author for Delish, lists five reasons to avoid kombucha. Let’s either debunk or verify each claim:

1. The sugar content is scary. Weinberg says that a bottle can contain up to 20 grams of sugar. True enough, but most have 10 grams or under. Personally, I’d never touch one that has so much sugar. BTW, some sugar content is per serving and some are by a bottle, so check before imbibing. All this is not to say that some of the sugar levels on the label are incorrect; that is another story for another day.

2. It’s possible to overdose. I guess that’s true, but it’s also possible to overdose on soda pop and a few zillion other things.

3. There is a bit of alcohol in each bottle. That is a specious argument and one that is made irrelevant by various state laws that require ID to buy any kombucha containing a high level of alcohol. In fact, some Dijon mustards and cooking sprays also have alcohol.

4. The yeast content can mess with your body. Weinberg says that the yeast levels can mess you up if you have candida or a yeast infection. Seems to me that anyone with such an ailment would ask his or her doctor what food and beverages to avoid. And also drink the beverage in small doses to make sure it helps, not hurts.

Wait. That’s only four. The headline says five yet the story lists four. Maybe too much kombucha impacts headline writers and editors.


Time to grab one of those Southwest Airlines low fares and head to Baltimore. BevNet reports that Mobtown Fermentation is releasing a new flavor that sounds amazing—Tart Cherry and Ginger Juice. We’ve tried tart cherry from some other kombucha brewers, and the taste has been wonderful.
“I’m excited to be adding a spring flavor to our line,” Sid Sharma, Owner of Wild Kombucha told BevNet. “Cherry is one of the most popular flavors there are, especially in the warmer seasons, and pairing it with ginger has created a unique kombucha that I think people are really going to enjoy.”
Sounds like a refreshing summer brew.


Et tu Trader Joe’s?
Trader Joe’s has been added to the lawsuit against kombucha bottlers who, plaintiffs argue, mislabel the sugar and alcohol content in their brews.
The suit is being brought by Kombucha Dog, a Los Angeles-based brewer. Kombucha Dog’s kombucha has a level of alcohol which makes it an alcoholic beverage and subject to taxes and shelf placement for such beverages. The claim is that other brewers, including Trader Joes, mislabels theirs to avoid the tax and shelf placement.
Kombucha Dog, according to the article in the San Francisco Chronicle, has 1.4% alcohol which is more than twice the .5% which is the cutoff between alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages.